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The small town of Raton, New Mexico is found around halfway between Pueblo in Colorado, and Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. No one is quite sure where the name Raton came from, only that it means "mouse" in Spanish. The area Raton inhabits was first explored by Spanish explorers several hundred years ago, although there was no actual townsite in Raton until 1877. The first name for Ration was Willow Springs when it first began as a small stop on the Santa Fe Trail, before changing its name to Otero, and finally, Raton.
When you search for an RV in Raton, you can get a real feel for the Southwest, with iconic architecture reminiscent of the terracotta tile roofs of the Mediterranean, and the ancient Pueblo structures that have changed hardly at all in the thousands of years they have been built. There are fantastic desert landscapes around Raton, and some pretty exciting ways to pass the time in town too. Conveniently located on Interstate 25, Raton is quite easy to get to and from, ideal for exploring the “Land of Enchantment” when you rent an RV.
The great outdoors of New Mexico are largely responsible for the state’s rapidly emerging tourism sector, with its diverse mix of landscapes ranging from barren deserts to alpine forests and everything in between. Raton is in a particularly stunning part of New Mexico, with lots of nearby parks in Colorado and within the state.
Sugarite Canyon State Park is one of many state parks you can visit when you rent an RV in Raton, and it is less the ten miles from town. This unique park was once a large coal-mining camp but has since been left for nature to reclaim. There are flat top mesas, cinder cone volcanoes, and many other geological oddities dotting the park. You can go boating, swimming, and fishing in the two largest lakes, Lake Alice and Lake Maloya, or hike through challenging terrain to old ruins, dense ponderosa pine forests, and wildlife areas. There are places to rock climb, ride horses, and camp in your Raton RV rental by owner.
Capulin Volcano National Monument is a bit farther outside of town, keeping with the volcanic/geological theme of the area. The park protects a now-extinct cinder cone volcano that rises from the ground prominently in an otherwise flat area. The volcano is thought to have erupted over 50,000 years ago, now just a harmless landmark in the rolling grasslands of northern New Mexico. You can hike to the summit of this 8,000-foot-tall cinder cone to enjoy some dazzling views of the surrounding area.
Eagle Nest Lake State Park is over by the town of Taos, home to a massive alpine lake that is great for swimming and boating during the hot summers of New Mexico. The water remains cold and refreshing and is a popular place to go fishing or ice fishing in the winter. You can go hiking, biking, or snowmobiling in the park depending on the season, and bask in the beauty of nearby Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in the state.
If you dip over into southern Colorado, you can visit one of the state’s best national parks, Great Sand Dunes National Park. This natural gem is home to epic dunes that make visitors feel as though they have been dropped into the Sahara Desert in Africa. These towering dunes are fun to climb and sandboard down and are incredibly beautiful when viewed against the Rocky Mountain backdrop behind it. You can camp in the park or enjoy any number of Colorado’s parks nearby when you bring your Raton camper rental to Colorado for a few days.
Campgrounds are easy to come by in Raton, or in any part of northern New Mexico for that matter, so when you pick up your Raton motorhome rental, you will have lots of options. Willow Springs RV Park is one place to consider. There are bathrooms, hot showers, spacious campsites, and other basic features at this peaceful camping area outside of town.
Raton KOA is just off Interstate 25, with short walks to town and its restaurants and attractions. At this KOA campground, you are also close to the national monuments and state parks of the area.
State parks are always an option too. Sugarite Canyon State Park is home to just one of the many public campgrounds that will do the trick, with dozens of others waiting to host you should you escape for a road trip around northern New Mexico. There are swimming areas, hiking trails, and stunning landscapes when you choose to “rough it” at one of these rustic campgrounds.
Raton is a vibrant community with lots of unique ways to pass the time while you are taking a break from the wilderness areas and parks of New Mexico. Both the El Raton Theatre and the Shuler Theater serve the community of Raton, ensuring that there is an abundance of performing arts and great live music flooding the town on any given night. Shuler Theater has a storied past with unparalleled acoustics in an intimate performance space. This old theater has hosted some internationally famous musicians and bands, making it a premier nightlife destination in Raton. El Raton Theatre is an old Art Deco movie house that retains its 1930’s style while playing modern movies. This historic landmark is recognized for its amazing architecture and old-time atmosphere.
The Raton Museum is a marvelous place to spend the day, for curious-minded travelers and children passionate about learning. The museum masterfully explains the coal mining camps that would later become towns like Raton, with a vast array of subject matter covered by passionate volunteers and curators. All facets of the town’s history can be studied in this small museum space, like the first Spanish explorers, the ancient native tribes, and WWI.
The town is known to host a few exciting events, like the Run to Raton Bike Rally, where hundreds of vendors, dozens of live music acts, and thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts gather to celebrate. Raton is also home to the International Balloon Rally, a hot air balloon gathering held the weekend of July 4th each year.